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Consumer Trends

Teens name their top 5 restaurant chains

Chick-fil-A has nudged Starbucks out of the top slot in an updated ranking of restaurant chains by their followings among affluent teenagers.

The semiannual report from Piper Jaffray shows Starbucks maintaining its long reign as the hearththrob of teens from average-income households, a streak that began in 2011 when the coffee king pushed McDonald’s out of first place.

How they stack up for affluent teens


The study, “Taking Stock With Teens,” which Piper Jaffray updates twice a year, shows far more is at stake for restaurants than just the high regard of tomorrow’s mainstream consumers. Piper Jaffray found that spending among all teens has increased by 6% since fall of 2017, raising the projected total for 2018 to $2,600 each.

Restaurants remain the youngsters’ favorite place to use that money, with chains increasing their portion of the total outlay to an all-time high of 24% in 2018.

Limited-service brands dominate teens’ preferences, continuing the trend Piper Jaffray first noted in spring 2009. “We believe this is fueled by fast-casual preference coupled with affordability considerations, notes the company, a financial services concern.

The lone full-service brand finishing among the top five for teens from average-income households was Buffalo Wild Wings, at No. 5, a position it has held for more than a year.

Teens' overall favorite restaurant chains


Not a single casual or polished-casual chain finished among the top five slots on the rankings for teens from affluent households, which Piper Jaffray defines as homes with at least $100,000 in annual income, or 20% of households.

Rounding out the top five lists for teens from average-income homes were McDonalds at No. 3 and Taco Bell at No. 4.

Places three through five on the ranking by affluent teens were Chipotle, McDonalds and Panera Bread.

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